Court green-lights legalization of West Bank outpost, paving way for dozens more
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Court green-lights legalization of West Bank outpost, paving way for dozens more

In precedent-setting decision, judges apply ‘market regulation’ tactic to regulate Mitzpe Kramim where residents were deemed to have built illegally, but in good faith

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

View of the Jewish outpost of Mitzpe Kramim, June 5, 2012. (photo credit: Noam Moskowitz/FLASH90)
View of the Jewish outpost of Mitzpe Kramim, June 5, 2012. (photo credit: Noam Moskowitz/FLASH90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.

Hamas: There’s ‘national consensus’ for long-term Gaza ceasefire with Israel

Hamas says in a statement that there exists a “national consensus” among the Palestinian people in favor of a long-term Gaza ceasefire with Israel.

The terror group ruling the coastal enclave referred specifically to a deal that would lift the blockade of Gaza, but that would ostensibly require some sort of agreement with Israel for that to happen.

The statement also criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has slammed as “treasonous” intensifying talks between Hamas and Israel that sideline his government.

Russia ‘reinforcing military presence off Syria’

Moscow is reinforcing its military presence in the Mediterranean near Syria, Russian media reports, as speculation grows that Damascus is planning a Russian-backed offensive on rebel-held Idlib province.

Moscow has accused rebels of planning to stage a chemical attack in the northwestern province that would “provoke” Western strikes on its ally Damascus.

Quoting anonymous sources, the Kommersant daily reports that Russia sent two warships and an additional anti-aircraft missile system to the Mediterranean in August.

Pro-Kremlin paper Izvestia says Russia currently has 10 warships and two submarines in Syrian waters, saying this amounted to Moscow’s biggest military presence there since it became involved in the conflict in 2015.

According to Izvestia, Russia plans to send “several more” warships to Syria.

— AFP

Pompeo visit scrapped after belligerent letter from North Korea — report

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s planned trip to North Korea last weekend has been canceled after he received what US officials deemed to be a belligerent letter from Pyongyang, The Washington Post reports.

The precise contents of the letter, which came from Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling party, were not known, the Post says.

Pompeo received it Friday and showed it to US President Donald Trump. They concluded it was belligerent enough to call off the visit, the Post said late Monday, quoting two administration officials.

In pulling the plug on the visit, Trump tweeted that he had not seen sufficient progress toward Pyongyang denuclearizing.

Trump acted amid independent reports that North Korea has done little or nothing to roll back its nuclear program, despite promises made at a historic summit in June with Kim Jong Un.

Trump also blasted China for not doing enough to help push denuclearization, but left open the possibility of a Pompeo trip to Pyongyang when the US-China trading relationship is “resolved.”

China has rejected the “completely irresponsible” accusation that Beijing was not doing enough.

“I’m willing to point out again, the US’s characterisation goes against the truth, and is completely irresponsible,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying tells reporters in Beijing.

Beijing has always encouraged dialogue to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula, she said, noting however that the deal struck between Kim and Trump at their summit in June “does not seem to be smooth sailing.”

— AFP

Rohingya demand justice after UN probe calls for genocide prosecution

Rohingya leaders in Bangladesh challenge the United Nations to ensure Myanmar’s generals stand trial after investigators called for top military commanders to be prosecuted for genocide against the minority.

A UN fact-finding mission into violations in Myanmar said the country’s army chief and five other senior brass should be investigated over a brutal crackdown last year that drove 700,000 Rohingya Muslims into Bangladesh.

The report commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council detailed a horrifying list of atrocities against the Rohingya, including murder, enforced disappearance, torture, and sexual violence “perpetrated on a massive scale.”

Estimates that 10,000 were killed in the 2017 crackdown were “conservative,” investigators said.

Myanmar has vehemently denied the allegations, insisting it was responding to attacks by Rohingya rebels.

Community leaders for the roughly one million displaced Rohingya in southern Bangladesh welcome calls for prosecution, but said they would judge the UN on its ability to deliver justice.

“The UN has to ensure that justice sees the light,” Rohingya community leader Abdul Gowffer tells AFP by phone.

“The commanders must face an ICC trial,” he adds, referring to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

— AFP

UN points to possible ‘war crimes’ in Yemen conflict

All sides in Yemen’s bloody conflict may have committed war crimes, UN investigators say Tuesday, highlighting deadly airstrikes, rampant sexual violence, and the recruitment of young children as soldiers.

In their first report, a team of UN-mandated investigators say they had “reasonable grounds to believe that the parties to the armed conflict in Yemen have committed a substantial number of violations of international humanitarian law.”

Many of these violations may amount to “war crimes,” the report says, pointing to widespread arbitrary detention, rape, torture and the recruitment of children as young as eight to take part in hostilities.

Kamel Jendoubi, who heads the UN’s so-called Group of Independent Eminent International and Regional Experts, say the investigators had identified a number of alleged perpetrators.

“A confidential list of these individuals will be presented today to the (UN) High Commissioner” for Human Rights, he tells journalists in Geneva.

The devastating conflict in Yemen has left nearly 10,000 people dead since March 2015, when a Saudi-led coalition intervened to fight Houthi rebels closing in on the last bastion of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s government.

— AFP

Colorado mom says 9-year-old son dies by suicide after homophobic bullying at school

A mother in Colorado tells a local Fox affiliate that her 9-year-old son died from suicide after being bullied in school over his sexual orientation.

Leia Pierce says Jamel Miles came out to her earlier this summer and said he wanted to tell his friends at school he was gay because he “was proud of his identity.”

The mother says it took just four days at school for Jamel to become overwhelmed by the negative reactions from fellow students.

“My son told my eldest daughter that the kids at school told him to kill himself,” Pierce recalls.

Worker killed operating underwater equipment in Haifa

A 33-year-old construction worker has succumbed to wounds sustained while operating underwater pumping equipment at a port in Haifa.

Doctors declare Majd al-Krum dead at nearby Rambam Hospital after failing in resuscitation efforts.

 

PA police uncover 12 grenades outside West Bank village

Palestinian Authority police located twelve 40-millimeter grenades near a village in the northern West Bank, they say in a statement.

After finding the grenades close to Mughayyer, a village near Jenin, police dispatched a bomb disposal team to the area, which transported them to “a safe location” and destroyed them, the statement added.

A spokesman for the PA police did not immediately respond to a request for comment about how the grenades ended up where they were found.

— Adam Rasgon

Berlin offers police help after violent far-right protest

Germany’s top security official has offered to send federal assistance to the eastern state of Saxony following violence during a far-right protest in the city of Chemnitz that left at least six people injured.

The protest late Monday, sparked by the killing of a 35-year-old German man in an altercation with migrants over the weekend, erupted into clashes between neo-Nazis and left-wing counter-protesters. Opposition parties criticized police for failing to prevent the violence.

“The police in Saxony are in a difficult situation,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer says. “Should it be requested, the federal government will provide police support.”

Green lawmaker Konstantin von Notz urges Seehofer to consider resigning, accusing him of fanning anti-migrant sentiment over the past year.

Von Notz tells the news portal t-online.de that the violence in Chemnitz recalled events elsewhere in eastern Germany during the early 1990s, when authorities failed to stop far-right mobs from attacking migrants.

The German news agency dpa reports that Chemnitz police acknowledged having mobilized too few officers for the demonstration. Footage showed officers struggling to prevent far-right protesters breaking through police lines and demonstrators performing Nazi salutes and chanting “the national resistance is marching here!”

— AP

Police break up suspected human trafficking prostitution ring

Police announce they have broken up a suspected human trafficking ring that was allegedly bringing women to Israel from Eastern Europe to work as prostitutes in eight brothels around the country.

The investigation, which began in June, led to the arrest of 12 people, including the madam, her husband and her son, suspected of bringing women to Israel and running the brothels in Jerusalem, Haifa and Ashkelon. In addition, eight women suspected of working as prostitutes were arrested and brought for a hearing at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.

During the months-long investigation police uncovered the method by which the suspects brought the women from Ukraine and Georgia by posting on local job-seekers websites.

Abbas tells Israeli academics that Palestinians support two-state solution

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas tells a group of Israeli academics that the Palestinians support a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the two-state solution and international decisions, the official PA news site Wafa reports.

Abbas met with the Israeli academics at the Muqata, the PA presidential headquarters in Ramallah.

“The Palestinian side is committed to the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace based on the principle of the two-state solution and decisions of international legitimacy, despite all the difficulties and obstacles the Israeli government has placed on the path to peace,” the PA president says.

For his part, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Abbas of preventing the advancement of peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

— Adam Rasgon

Israel: IDF will continue acting militarily against Iranian buildup in Syria

A senior diplomatic official says that the IDF will continue to act “on the military level” against Iranian attempts to transfer military forces and weapon systems to Syria.

“The prime minister has put the struggle against Iran’s military buildup in Syria as a central objective, just as he had set the goal of canceling the nuclear agreement and achieved that goal, even though it seemed impossible at the time,” the official says.

Shin Bet says it foiled Hamas terror network being run out of Hebron

The Shin Bet security agency announces that it has uncovered a Hamas terror network being run out of the flashpoint city of Hebron.

The network recruited dozens of activists, including women who worked in coordination with Hamas headquarters in Gaza as well as abroad in order to promote terror activity, the Shin Bet says.

The statement from the security agency does not elaborate on whether anyone has been arrested or what types of attacks were being planned by members of the network.

 

Bitan exits 9th interrogation in bribery probe

Likud MK David Bitan has left the Lahav 433 national fraud unit’s headquarters in Rishon Lezion after being interrogated for a ninth time regarding an ongoing corruption investigation against him.

Bitan is suspected of accepting hundreds of thousands of shekels in bribes, some of which were allegedly received after he became a member of Knesset.

Iran says advisers will stay in Syria

Iran’s military attache to Damascus tells Iranian media that the country’s military advisers would remain in Syria under a defense agreement signed this week.

“The continued presence of Iran’s advisers in Syria is one of the areas covered in the defensive-technical agreement between Tehran and Damascus,” says Brigadier-General Abolghasem Alinejad, according to the Fars and Tabnak news agencies.

It was announced on Monday that an agreement on security cooperation had been signed during a visit by Iran’s Defence Minister Amar Hatami.

“Support for Syria’s territorial integrity and the independence of Syrian sovereignty were also emphasized in the agreement,” Alinejad says.

Tehran has provided steady political, financial, and military backing to President Bashar Assad as he has crushed a seven-year uprising.

In an interview Monday night with the Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen television channel, Hatami said the agreement included the rehabilitation of Syria’s defense industry.

— AFP

Gabbay visits Arab Israelis targeted in Haifa beach attack

Labor chairman Avi Gabbay pays a visit to Shfaram to meet with three Arab Israelis who were brutally assaulted by a group of Jews at a beach in Haifa last week.

The attack last week — which unfolded after the assailants asked the trio if they were Arab — has been condemned by Israeli officials, including President Reuven Rivlin. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to make a statement on the matter.

Ex-chief rabbi Sacks says Corbyn’s remarks on Zionists most offensive in 50 years

The former chief rabbi of Britain Jonathan Sacks says that recent comments made by Labour party chairman Jeremy Corbyn about Zionists were “the most offensive statement made by a senior British politician since Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech.”

Sacks was referencing an address given by a former cabinet member that was widely condemned for its racist rhetoric on immigration.

““Now, within living memory of the Holocaust, and while Jews are being murdered elsewhere in Europe for being Jews, we have an antisemite as the leader of the Labour party and Her Majesty’s opposition. That is why Jews feel so threatened by Mr. Corbyn and those who support him,” Sacks tells the New Statesman.

Sacks is referring to recently uncovered remarks made by Corbyn from 2013 in which the Labour leader claimed “Zionists” have “no sense of irony” despite “having lived in this country for a very long time.”

Disabled protest blocks main Tel Aviv highway

Handicapped demonstrators and their supporters block a major Tel Aviv interchange as they continue their campaign for disability benefits to be raised to the same level as the minimum wage.

Police say that the Azrieli junction is closed to traffic in both directions.

US ends suspension of military drills, amid North Korea tensions

The United States will end its suspension of military drills on the Korean peninsula, a move that had been decided as a “good faith” measure following President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the Pentagon says.

“We took the step to suspend several of the largest military exercises as a good faith measure,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis tells reporters. “We have no plans to suspend any more.”

Mattis, however, does not give any indication that exercises with allied forces in the region — which have angered Pyongyang in the past — would resume any time soon.

“We are going to see how the negotiations go, and then we will calculate the future how we go forward,” Mattis says.

In June, after Trump met with Kim in Singapore, the United States said it would suspend “select” exercises with South Korea, including the large-scale Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises slated for August, making good on a Trump summit pledge.

Some 17,500 US military personnel were due to take part in the Freedom Guardian drills.

In June, Trump raised eyebrows by describing the exercises as “war games” and as “provocative” — a term used by the North.

Mattis demurs when asked if a resumption of exercises could now be considered provocative.

“Even answering a question in that manner could influence the negotiations. Let’s let the negotiations, let the diplomats go forward. We all know the gravity of the issues we are dealing with,” he says.

US and South Korean forces have been training together for years, and routinely rehearse everything from beach landings to an invasion from the North, or even “decapitation” strikes targeting the North Korean regime.

— AFP

Egypt court sentences 6 to death over checkpoint attack

An Egyptian court has sentenced six defendants to death for a fatal attack on a police checkpoint northwest of Cairo in 2016, judicial officials.

The court also has jailed two people for life and four others, including three minors, for terms ranging from three to 15 years.

They have all been found guilty of killing a policeman during the assault and attempting to murder a second officer.

In addition, they have been sentenced for allegedly forming and supporting a terrorist group to try to topple the government and attack police and armed forces personnel.

Egypt’s courts have sentenced to death or lengthy jail terms hundreds of people after speedy mass trials since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 amid protests against his rule.

International rights campaign group Reprieve says that figures it compiled indicate Egypt executed at least 83 people between January 2014 and February 2018.

— AFP

Merkel: ‘Hate in the streets’ has no place in Germany

Chancellor Angela Merkel condemns violent far-right protests that degenerated into attacks against foreign-looking people, saying “hate in the streets” has no place in Germany.

After the fatal stabbing of a German man, 35, allegedly by a Syrian and an Iraqi, thousands of protesters marched in the eastern city of Chemnitz for two straight days, some chasing down people they believed were immigrants.

Police reported assaults by extremists against at least three foreigners on Sunday, while investigations were opened in 10 cases of the protesters performing the illegal Hitler salute.

At least 20 people were injured on Monday as pyrotechnics and other objects were hurled by both far-right demonstrators as well as anti-fascist counter-protesters in the city.

“What we have seen is something which has no place in a constitutional democracy,” Merkel tells journalists.

“We have video recordings of [people] hunting down others, of unruly assemblies, and hate in the streets, and that has nothing to do with our constitutional state.”

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer says  federal police were ready to provide back-up for overwhelmed officers in Saxony state, where Chemnitz is located.

But there is little sign of the marches spreading further, with a right-wing demonstration in the state capital Dresden attracting just 50 people, according to regional newspaper Saechsische Zeitung.

— AFP

Court green-lights legalization of West Bank outpost with use of precedent-setting tactic

The Jerusalem District Court has green-lighted the use of a tactic known as “market regulation” to legalize the central West Bank outpost of Mitzpe Kramim.

The policy trusts that wildcat Israeli homes were built in good faith by unwitting settlers, who are then granted legal status to remain, as the court says was the case with Mitzpe Kramim.

However, the decision handed down today clarifies that it does not relate to issues of ownership of the property. A number of Palestinians claim ownership of the land on which the outpost was built and if they file an appeal against the ruling, the legalization process would be stalled.

Nonetheless, the decision marks the first time the tactic of market regulation has been adapted by an Israeli court regarding property in the West Bank and could pave way to legalization of dozens of illegal outposts.

PM accepts UNESCO head’s invite to GA conference on anti-Semitism

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepts an invitation from new UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay to participate in a conference during the General Assembly on combating anti-Semitism at the General Assembly next month in New York, Ynet news reports.

The conference will be the first of its kind and is expected to host leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The invite by Azoulay appears to represent an attempt on her part to improve her  United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s ties with the Jewish state.

Israel and the US announced at the beginning of the year that they would be leaving the group by the end of 2018, citing among other reasons the body’s anti-Israel bias.

UN concern mounts over civilians in rebel-controlled Syria

Several UN Security Council ambassadors voices concern over the fate of civilians in the rebel-held Syrian province of Idlib, as Damascus appears ready to militarily re-take the region.

Following a council meeting on the humanitarian situation in Syria, Western nations warned of the dire consequences of an attack by the government of Bashar Assad.

“There are alarming signs of a pending military offensive in northwestern Syria,” says Carl Skau, Sweden’s ambassador to the Security Council.

“Increased military escalation,” he warns, “would have catastrophic consequences and can lead to a humanitarian disaster.”

The strategically important northwestern province of Idlib borders on Turkey and is the last holdout of rebels in Syria.

John Ging, a senior official with the UN Humanitarian Affairs office, said that observers have seen a “serious deterioration of the humanitarian situation” in northwestern Syria in the past weeks.

— AFP

Russia to hold biggest military drills since Cold War

Russia will next month flex its military muscles and hold the biggest war games since the Cold War era, with almost 300,000 troops and 1,000 aircraft, the country’s defense minister says.

The Vostok-2018, or East 18, exercises simulating large-scale warfare, will be carried out from September 11 to 15 in the country’s east, with troops from China and Mongolia also taking part.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) speaks with Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on December 29, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/Sputnik/Michael Klimentyev)

They come as Russia is hit by the latest round of US sanctions and faces even harsher ones over its alleged role in a nerve agent attack in Britain, with its relations with the West at their lowest ebb since the Cold War.

NATO says it sees the games as signs of “a more assertive Russia.”

— AFP

Shooting suspect David Katz was able to buy guns despite mental illness

Even though the suspect in a shooting at a Florida video game tournament had been hospitalized for mental illness, authorities say he was able to legally purchase the two handguns he was carrying at the time of the attack.

David Katz had a 9mm handgun and .45-caliber handgun when he opened fire Sunday at a gaming bar inside a collection of restaurants and shops in Jacksonville. He killed two people and wounded 10 others before fatally shooting himself during the “Madden NFL 19” tournament.

Divorce filings in Maryland from Katz’s parents say he was twice hospitalized as an adolescent in psychiatric facilities and was prescribed antipsychotic and antidepressant medications.

Jacksonville shooting suspect David Katz at a tournament in 2017. (screen capture: YouTube)

When buying the weapons, the 24-year-old Baltimore man would have been required by federal law to disclose whether he was ever involuntarily committed to a mental institution.

— AP

Israel to more than double number of its F-35s in 2019

Israel will more than double its fleet of F-35 stealth fighters next year, receiving 18 new aircraft in 2019, Hadashot TV news reports.

The Israeli Air Force at present possesses 12 of the advanced aircraft.

Manufacturer Lockheed Martin says F-35s currently operate from 15 bases around the world, including Israel’s Nevatim airbase.

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